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  Library Journal Review

Neurolinguist Jean McClellan lives in a near future, or perhaps parallel present-day, America ruled by a right-wing theocracy. For a year, women and girls have been forced to wear electronic devices that monitor their speech, limiting them to 100 spoken words per day and enforcing the rules via electric shock. Those women who still work can only do so in manual labor positions, or-like Jean-abandon their careers to become obedient homemakers. When a crisis grants Jean an emergency dispensation to return to her former research treating aphasia, she seizes the opportunity to push back against the oppressive government but is forced to decide just how far she'll go to risk her family's safety for the greater good. The McClellan family dynamics tug Jean in a variety of directions, bringing immediacy to the stakes; in particular, her relationship with her oldest son and youngest daughter feel vivid and real. The world Dalcher has created is a grim, frightening dystopian America that inevitably calls to mind comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 and perhaps to Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" books, with a government that goes too far trying to recapture an idealized 1950s patriarchal society that never actually existed. Narrator Julia Whelan's reading makes the text immediate and personal, bringing intelligence and desperation to Jean's first-person voice. VERDICT There are a few holes in the worldbuilding logic-women are also kept off the Internet and prevented from reading and writing, without a lot of explanation why or how, aside from passing mentions of computers and books kept locked away-but the narrative is engaging and exciting enough to make these forgivable, especially in the final quarter or so as things come to a head. ["-Dalcher reflects current politics in a clarion call against apathy in a page-turning first novel that is perfect for fans of speculative fiction or women's studies and ripe fodder for book club discussions": LJ 8/18 starred review of the Berkley hc.]-Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In her provocative debut, linguist Dalcher imagines a near future in which speech and language-or the withholding thereof-are instruments of control. The election of a conservative president with a charismatic (and psychotic) religious advisor is merely the final straw in a decades-long trend toward repression and authoritarianism. For years, cognitive linguist Jean McClellan, a well-educated white woman, chose to immerse herself in academia rather than become politically active, even as signs of authoritarianism were proliferating. Now, however, a year after the election, women in the United States have been limited to speaking no more than 100 words per day or face painful consequences. When the President's brother suffers an accident that affects his brain's speech centers, Jean might be able to leverage her expertise to restore her status. Dalcher's narrative raises questions about the links between language and authority; most chilling is the specter of young girls being starved of language and, consequently, the capacity to think critically. The novel's muddled climax and implausible denouement fail to live up to its intriguing premise. Nevertheless, Dalcher's novel carries an undeniably powerful message. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
One of Entertainment Weekly's and SheReads' books to read after The Handmaid's Tale <p>Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter. <p>On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her. <p> This is just the beginning. <p>Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard. <p> But this is not the end. <p>For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
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